Eight former officers have failed in their attempt to sue South Wales police for wrongful investigation and prosecution. Mr Justice Wyn Williams ruled that police were within their rights to investigate the eight for allegedly ‘fitting up’ the Cardiff Three, who were jailed in 1990 but released in 1992 after their convictions were quashed.
One claim made by the officers was that the inquiry was influenced by Satish Sekar’s book ‘Fitted In: The Cardiff Three and the Lynette White Inquiry’ which argued that the White team had manipulated evidence (Waterside Press published Sekar’s follow-up book The Cardiff Five: Innocent Beyond Any Doubt in 2012).
The case against the officers for “acting corruptly together”, which is estimated to have cost the taxpayer £30m, collapsed in 2011. However, Mr Jusice Williams said:
“I find it very difficult to understand how the accounts emerged as they did if no police officer was instrumental in what occurred.
“I have reached the clear conclusion that reasonable grounds existed from the start of LW3 [the inquiry into the White team] to suspect that the untruthful accounts which the core four gave about the involvement of the original defendants in Lynette’s murder were brought about by criminal conduct on the part of police officers involved in LW1 [the original investigation].
“In my judgment, it was permissible for LW3 officers to suspect that officers who had been part of LW1… had engaged in a conspiracy to mould and manipulate evidence.”
The eight officers had accused SW police of “misfeasance in public office” by deliberately or recklessly acting beyond its powers when it investigated them. They also claimed that they had been falsely imprisoned.
Summarising his judgment, Mr Justice Williams said: “The claimants have failed to prove these allegations. I have concluded that no officer of SWP recklessly exceeded his or her powers.”
“I found the defendant [South Wales Police] proved on the balance of probabilities that there were reasonable grounds to suspect the claimants had committed one or more of the offences for which they were arrested.”
For more on the original case and investigation as well as the campaign to demonstrate the innocence of those originally arrested and/or convicted [LW1] see The Cardiff Five: Innocent Beyond Any Doubt.